How Lids Uses Social to Amplify Sports Passion

How Lids Uses Social to Amplify Sports Passion

Matthew Thompson, Social Media Manager at Lids, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss how Lids engages sports fans and why social is the new storefront.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

The New Storefront

It’s easy to take the term “social media” for granted. While most businesses understand that they need to engage with it on some level, we don’t always feel social’s impact on every aspect of a brand.

There was a time when the most important interaction between a business and its customers took place at the storefront. The conversations, the assistance, the sale, the handshake—this is where people came face to face with the business and walked away with an impression (and, hopefully, a product).

Now, people are bringing their favorite brands home, on the bus, to work—everywhere they go. Social media truly has become the place where customers and businesses socialize. E-commerce is now built directly into many social platforms. As Matt Thompson of Lids puts it, social media is the new storefront.

In This Episode

  • How to engage multiple local and very polarized audiences.
  • How to balance event-based advertising with evergreen content.
  • How to structure customer care between the social team and customer service.
  • Why online sales may be shifting from Facebook to Instagram.
  • How to integrate email with social campaigns.

Quotes From This Episode

“Images by far outweigh anything you can write anymore.” — @MattDThompson

Social media is the new store experience. Click To Tweet

“The biggest problem that some companies have is they start creating content that they want, and not content that their customers want.” — @MattDThompson

Resources

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Episode Transcript

 
Jay Baer: Hey everybody, this is Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, joined, as always, here on Social Pros by my special Texas friend. He is the Executive Strategist for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Live from Austin, Texas, it's Adam Brown.
Adam Brown: I am hatless today, but that does not mean that I do not own hats. I am a bit of a collector of thing. I don't know if I'm on that hoarding spectrum, Jay, but I collect hats. I love sports hats, lots of different teams. Almost all bought from one retailer, Lids, and almost all the franchise, which is a style of hat that seems to appeal to me, my facial profile, and my stage in life.
Jay Baer: I agree. I've got a number of those same hats. Big fan of Lids, which is the organization we'll be talking to today on the Social Pros podcast. Specifically, Matt Thompson, who is the Social Media Manager for Lids. Lids is a nationwide, actually global retailer of sports merchandise. Primarily hat; that's why it's called Lids, which you might figure, and a terrific episode.
You know, what's funny about Lids, Adam, is that everybody in social wants to try and create fans. Like, we talk about it all the time, like, create fans, turn your customers into fans, make them feel like fans. Yet, in the world of sports, that's endemic. They already have all these fans. So, what Matt and his team are trying to do is say, "Hey, since we already know you're a fan, how would you like a hat?" They're doing some really interesting things, and could be an amazing program with Spike Lee.
Adam Brown: Amazing things, and as you said, there are already fans out there. They have to capitalize upon someone else's fans. The major league teams, and college teams and things like that. They're doing an amazing job of that. I'm also really impressed with how Matt talked about how they're using technology. Like, their Pressbox, which is like their social media command center. Not just to do marketing and communications, and customer care, but also to actually use that information throughout the organization, which is making social that much more prominent inside of their organization.
Jay Baer: Yeah, one of the smart things he talked about was not keeping social media hidden, but making sure everybody in their organization has access to it. You're going to learn a lot in this episode. Please join us here for Matt Thompson, Head of Social Media for Lids on this week's Social Pros podcast.
Hi, friends, this is Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. Thanks, as always, for listening to Social Pros. I tell you, now in our eighth year doing this show. It simply wouldn't be possible without the support of our sponsors. This week they include Salesforce Marketing Cloud, long-standing sponsor of the show. You know, social is more important than ever for B2B marketers, yet some have a hard time using it effectively, or measuring results.
There's a new, complete guide, totally free, from our friends at Salesforce. It's called The Complete Guide To Social Media For B2B Marketers, and it reveals the best types of content for each segment, and each social channel, talks about the role of metrics, social listening and how to elevate your message and drive results in social for B2B. Really good stuff, no cost. Just go to bit.ly/socialb2bguide. That's bit.ly/socialb2bguide. All lowercase. You can download it right now.
This week the show is also brought to you by Brandwatch. You know, there's thousands, and thousands, and thousands of images shared online every second. It's crazy. Instagram, everywhere, et cetera. Brandwatch has world leading image insights that can discover any logo, in any picture, and then helps brands measure their visibility within those photos. Pretty cool stuff.
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Matt Thompson, a Social Media Manager for Lids, welcome to Social Pros.
Matt Thompson: Thank you guys so much for having me on. Very excited to be here.
Jay Baer: Matt, tell us a bit about the company. Obviously, as some listeners know, they're familiar with the brand, that Lids is a retailer/manufacturer of unbelievable array of soft goods. Of hats, of jerseys, of tee shirts, primarily in the athletic space; team logos, things like that, but not exclusively. Talk to us a bit about the full scope and scale of the organization.
Matt Thompson: Yeah, we are the retailer that's the leader in headwear. That's what we specialize in, obviously, with a name like Lids. We started off as a company called Hat World. Then we merged with a company called Lids. We actually bought them, and then merged the two together, kept the Lids name, and have just grown from there. We do licensed products, branded, so you've got your Nike, your Adidas, all that. Then we've got a separate entity as well, called Lids Locker Room, which is where you'll find the tee shirts, jerseys, all that kind of fun stuff.
Jay Baer: You're based in Indiana, not too far from me, actually. Do you feel like being in the middle of the country gives you an advantage, as opposed to if you were in San Francisco, or New York or Miami? Or, do you think it doesn't matter?
Matt Thompson: It kind of gives you a different mindset, being based out of the Midwest. Now, we are a nationwide company, so we've got stores coast to coast, and Puerto Rico, up in Canada too. I think being here in the Midwest, you get a different sense than some of the coastal ones do, because the Midwest is a larger portion of the country than the coast, so it gives you a chance to see some of the teams that may not get as much exposure. My personal favorite, the Cardinals, the Colts, stuff like that, that may not get as much press as your Dodgers, or your New York-based. Our vendors are typically coastal, so we kind of add that nice balance between the coast, the big cities, and then the heart of the Midwest.
Jay Baer: Tell me a bit about your team on the social media side. Obviously, you've got yourself. You've got some help as well?
Matt Thompson: I do. On my team I've got a videographer and a photographer. I've also got a coordinator specialist for social. I also work closely with our agency. We've got a social media agency that works underneath me that are strategic partners, as well as manages a lot of our paid ads.
Jay Baer: Adam, isn't it amazing that Matt's got a three-person team, and a third of the team is photographer/videographer, right? I mean, how times have changed. Obviously, in e-commerce, and a very product-centric business you've got to have those visuals. It's just, we talk about this on the show all the time. It's just remarkable how much social has become a pictures game more so than a words game. Matt, have you really witnessed that in your time in the organization?
Matt Thompson: Oh, absolutely. From when I started, which is way, way back, I was originally ... I kind of helped develop Friendster, and Facebook and MySpace for the Bob & Tom Show, which is a nationwide comedy radio show. I was with them. I was their web guy, and also wrote a lot of copy for them. We discovered this new social media, and I pushed them, like, "We really have to get on this." They were, "No, no, we have a website. It doesn't need anything."
Back then it was mostly just, maybe one grainy picture and a lot of copy. Then, over time, it's become more and more content, so we've been [inaudible 00:07:42], but more and more it's the visual basis of it. We have analytics come in all the time that, "Hey, your best performing posts have 69 characters on it. But, it had this great-looking image with it." So, images by far outweigh anything you can write anymore.
Adam Brown: Are you finding, Matt, that the video and the visual content data that your team is creating, what actual aspect of it is performing better? Is it when you show products, beauty shots? Is it when you're showing more sports and athletics stuff, or unique content that really shows, maybe a customer, or a retail location? I'm curious what piece of that is the most effective that you're finding so far.
Matt Thompson: That's always the great big debate whenever we get the team involved, and whenever we have our agency and run the numbers, because some people have a gut feeling as to what we should be showing. Some think it should be a product on a [person 00:08:36], some think it should be just propagating an environment, some people think it should be big logos, or like you said, store front.
What we've discovered is, people really want to see the product. When people come to our social media side, they came here to see hats. We try to make really stylized hat in environments, or product in environments shots, or videos. Those really work, especially on Instagram. As far as videos go, humor. Humor, and player ambassadors. That's our bread and butter. That's where we've seen the most effectiveness.
Now, we did actually get a really good video series. We worked with Spike Lee last year, and it was off the charts in how it performed compared to what our expectations were. Again, it was all about Spike Lee, a famous person, talking about and showing hats. That's kind of our sweet spot.
Adam Brown: He's kind of known as a hype guy ...
Matt Thompson: Absolutely.
Adam Brown: ... So that's totally appropriate. One of the interesting things I find about Lids is the fact that every Lids has different merchandise. Typically, kind of pulled from the local and regional sports teams in that particular market. If I'm at the Lids in Pittsburgh airport, I'm going to see a lot of Steelers and Pens stuff. If I'm in a Lids here in Austin, Texas or somewhere else, it's going to be completely different merchandise. I'm curious how that impacts your social conscience.
When you are showing a hat, and I know you're bias to the Cardinals, but you have a hat, how do you determine which team? Again, as we record this we're into the NBA Playoffs and things like that. We've got the Stanley Cup just happened. Are you picking teams like that, or are you also trying to pick teams from different regions that maybe are underserved, where you're trying to push inventory?
Matt Thompson: You know, that was the hardest thing to grasp when I first started here. My previous stop for a year, I was with an appliance retailer, and it was easy. You showed a picture of the hottest appliance. A refrigerator is a refrigerator, you just swap out the brands of what's hot. Here, you've got passion behind these things. No one's passionate about a Whirlpool fridge. If they are, more power to them. That's not the vast majority.
There are people who, if you show a Cardinals hat, you've just alienated all of your Cubs fans. If you show the New York Yankees too much, you've lost everybody in Boston. It really is balancing act. By far, our top two biggest sellers in hats are the Dodgers and the Yankees, because they're nationwide teams, they're fashionable logos, so we show them the most.
But, we hear about it if people from the Rockies, or the Marlins, or the Buccaneers, if any of them don't feel they're represented, so we try to work in as much as we can, other teams, because otherwise you will hear about it on social. Those fan bases are more than happy to let you know that you haven't shown their team for a while.
Jay Baer: Matt, is it easier sometimes to use paid social, where you can perhaps have a slightly more granular geographic distribution? I presume you do this for paid. Maybe you do for organic, but I'm not certain. You say, "All right, let's show Steelers hats to people in Pennsylvania, and let's show Broncos hats to people in Colorado." Do you do that kind of targeting in paid? Do you also do it organic, or do you do it neither?
Matt Thompson: When we do that, we do it majority paid. However, when you think about it and break it down, if you're doing that you might have to do 30 different versions. Not only are you taxing your creative, you're taxing your budget just trying to focus on all those. Plus, it's really hard to do regionally, because there are fans of different teams all over the- [crosstalk 00:12:12]
Jay Baer: Crossover, sure.
Matt Thompson: So, you have to hit people who like those people on social, and also geography. When I came in I thought a lot of that. I'm like, "Well, why don't we do that?" Then you start looking at the bottom line, it's like, you've just spread my budget by 30-fold, so it's really tough.
Jay Baer: Yeah, it's interesting.
Matt Thompson: Sounds nice, for sure.
Jay Baer: It is certainly nice that, at least on Facebook, you have that social data, to say, "Okay, let's run ads to people who like the good Cardinals team," the Arizona Cardinals, in my case. You can actually mine for that, and say, "Let's show people who like the Arizona Cardinals hats for the Arizona Cardinals." There are so many people in social who would love to have that kind of targeting, that inferred intent. That's got to be nice. Which of the leagues; football, baseball, basketball ... Except for hockey, I guess, which of the leagues sells the most merchandise at Lids? Is there a big direction there?
Matt Thompson: Major League baseball, by far. They're, by far, number one. The authentic cap is still the king. People go nuts for what the players are wearing on the field, so whenever they do a new connection, when they do Mother's Day, or Father's Day, or Memorial Day, or Fourth of July, people eat that stuff up.
Number two, NFL kind of took a hit last year. I think all those news stories have come out for various reasons that merchandise for NFL sales, along with ratings, went down. They're still a solid number two. NBA and NHL kind of battle back and forth. NBA skews a lot more fashion-driven than any of our other leagues.
Then you've got college underneath, which is bizarre, because a few years ago ... I say a few, could be five to ten years ago, NCAA was one of the top things, but that business is so fractured now, and there are so many other places that carry NCAA caps and gear, that it's becoming a smaller part of business.
Adam Brown: Recognizing that 99% of all the merchandise that you're selling is associated with one of those professional leagues. Do you have any issues, or governance in merchandising, or marketing? For example, the Atlanta Braves have, because that is a light mix, and a licensed representation of major league baseball. Anything that you have to do with the leagues, or are they just happy to see you promoting hats which promote their product, which help give them more and better branding?
Matt Thompson: We have strong partnerships with not only our vendors, but also the leagues. Pretty much anything we're doing, the leagues or our vendors would know about. Very rarely do we have any issues with that. Now, you may run into things like the Superbowl, or a big event where we're not an official partner, where you have to be careful.
One of the big things that always happens around Superbowl time, or around NCAA Final Four, is you can't use their marking. You can't show anything logo-wise unless it's pulling a profit. We can show a hat that has Superbowl XXXII logo on it, but we can't just put the Superbowl logo on there, so you've got to be creative in ways you show that, and make sure that you're only representing a product you actually carry.
One of the big misconceptions about this, and we hear about this all the time on social too, is that really we don't manufacture any hats. Everything we have comes from one of our big vendors, so we are almost 100% a retailer in these goods. A lot of the time we get pass-through rights for [inaudible 00:15:27].
Adam Brown: One of the things I'm curious about is timing. Do you find that it's better to market your products in and around the time of the actual sports event? In other words, baseballs games, you're going to actually try to get your content in there around a particular team, in and around when that team is playing. Probably a bit tougher for baseball, because baseball is being played every day. Football, where it's a weekly game, may be a bit differently. Or, is it better to try to cross-promote, and promote where you're not going to get stuck in all that content in and around that particular event or topic?
Matt Thompson: It plays a huge factor in when we advertise. Now, we have some advertisements that are always on. You always want to make sure that, over the course of a baseball season you're reminded about different products we carry. But, if there's a big game coming up, like whether we're in the middle of the NBA Finals, right before the game we're definitely going to advertise both teams that are playing.
We're going to push that strong with the different markets, and then we also graph something that would be nationwide, just to remind everybody that, "Hey, look at these two teams that are playing. We also have that same collection in all your other favorite teams." Sports does dictate, and it tends to dictate a lot of what we do.
Jay Baer: Matt, one thing I was going to ask you is, whether or not you and your team handle social customer care. So, if somebody has a question or concern, a problem, and issue with their lid, are you handling that as well, or is there a customer service team that handles that, and are you seeing more interaction with customers in social than perhaps you've seen in the past?
Matt Thompson: Oh, customer service. Everybody's favorite aspect of social. That's why we get up every day, right? We get up because we want to see all the-
Jay Baer: I do. I wrote a book about it, so yeah, I'm kind of into it, but-
Matt Thompson: Oh, all the negative things people are saying about you on social. Again, that goes back to when I was in radio. One of the big things I had to tell everybody when we first got started was, "Don't read the comments." I said, "There's a lot of negativity out there. There's going to be a lot of positive stuff, but the negative stuff can drive you crazy." It's been exactly the same in retail.
I am involved in customer service in the fact that my team and myself will go in and use our tool. We use Salesforce Social Studio to engage with our customers, so we have people who go in and read through everything that comes in. If something needs to be answered that we can answer, we will engage with the customer. If it needs to be escalated, we'll send that up. Our parent company has a customer service. Then, if it needs to come back in-house, if it's something that even they can't handle, or things have gone further, they'll kick it back to our internal customer service.
We're kind of the front line. We're the ones in there analyzing everything, deciding what needs to be escalated up. Because, as I've told my team, you can have something that seems minuscule, but it's almost like Smokey the Bear with that match out. One little smoldering coal can start a huge forest fire. That is social media. That's a tweet that goes astray. So yeah, we are heavily involved in customer service.
Jay Baer: I like the Smokey the Bear reference. I may have to use that again.
Matt Thompson: Any time I can work in Smokey the Bear, or McGruff the Crime Dog I try to.
Adam Brown: Oh, that's even better.
Jay Baer: I wrote a post recently about Instagram, and how I feel that Instagram is going to be more popular than Facebook in the US by 2020, because it's just easier to use, it's more mobile-friendly, it's less of a bummer. There's less fighting there, and difficulty. I think you had said that today Lids gets more sales from Facebook, but more engagement on Instagram. Are you seeing more Instagram e-commerce, and is that part of the strategy going forward?
I see so many soft goods companies now; hats, shoes, shorts, socks, a lot of those kinds of organizations, doing really effective e-comm on Instagram. And, of course, they're rolling out the ability to actually purchase from Instagram itself, not having to go to the website, which is pretty exciting. Is that something that you're going to embrace?
Matt Thompson: Yes, actually we've seen sales coming from, and revenue driven up from Instagram grow exponentially, even just in the past few months. We were early adopters to ... We were lucky to be involved in the early rollout of Instagram shopping. So, with your business account, the ability to add links to the products featured in your posts, that will take you directly to the site where people can purchase.
We've also tried to get ahead of the curve and offer exclusive offers via Instagram stories that last for 24 hours, which we had great success with, with the rollout of new products. So, we are investing more energy, more sales focus on Instagram. It's still not a primary focus on Instagram, but we have seen the results come back that the people on there are willing to shop, and do like our goods.
Jay Baer: One follow-up on that, Matt. Of course, the Instagram advertising interface, and the Facebook advertising interface are fundamentally the same; same organization. What changes do you make, or does the agency make on your behalf creatively when you're doing a commerce ad on Instagram, versus a commerce ad on Facebook? Some people I know run the same creative. I just wasn't sure if you have a different twist.
Matt Thompson: No, our Instagram, we lead with Instagram. So, when we come up with designs, or we come up with content, its primary goal on Instagram is engagement, and to be visually appealing, and get people to want to follow our channel. An engaged follower base on Instagram is our primary goal. Revenue is number two. Facebook, completely flip-flopped. Everything we create for that would be geared toward sales. We gear toward getting the product out there with an immediate link where you can go buy it, or a collection ad, or a carousel ad, anything like that.
When we're building for Instagram we think engagement first. How can we all utilize this for engagement? But, rarely will you see the same content that was built for Facebook appear on our Instagram channel. Now, you may see it the other way. We may create something for Instagram that also works on the other channels; Twitter and Instagram, but you won't see it vice versa.
Adam Brown: On a related front. I know this isn't necessarily your department, but I'm interested to know how what you do in social integrates, and is impacted by what Lids does in email, and vice versa. Are you saying, "Hey, this is an amazing home run photo on Instagram. Let's put that into an email newsletter," or vice versa? Are those promotions kind of integrated, is the calendar integrated? How separate or similar are those initiatives?
Matt Thompson: We are two separate entities. I work closely with our email team. They do a great job, and a lot of times we'll cross over if we have a similar promotion, and we try to use similar creative. Again, our Facebook would probably align more with email than our Instagram. Now, if we have something that's blowing off the charts on Instagram, or if we had ... This past Friday we had a cap that we released that really killed my expectations on what it was. It just blew up. We had 12 thousand likes in the first day.
Adam Brown: What was it?
Matt Thompson: It was a New Era cap called the 5-Star. It was kind of a military themed, had five stars on it, had a nice gray tone to it, and our fans just loved it. Again, because this one wasn't necessarily going to be one on the field, but it was kind of tied in to the Memorial Day and all that. Fans absolutely went nuts for it. So, we went back to our email team and said, "This is blowing up on social. We need to work it in to another email," so we did.
We kind of play off that too. If we see something on email with a high open rate, or we see a lot of sales come up, then we'll try to work on more creative that we can then use for Instagram.
Jay Baer: When that happens and you see this Instagram home run, do you then cycle that back to the ops team and say, "Hey, guys. Everybody seems to like this." Obviously, pressing the heart button on Instagram isn't the same as forking over 25 bucks. However, correlation would indicate that maybe we should stock more of these.
Matt Thompson: Yeah, just like I said, we're the front line for customer service. We're also the front line for what our customers are thinking and feeling. We're the only one of our channels that gets instant feedback from our customers. If we see something is doing really well, we can go back to our buyers and merchandisers, we can go to our ops team, even the [C 00:23:24] level guys and say, "Look, here's what we're finding. This is performing well," or, "This sale is falling apart. We've got to do something about this." We are, that social is that front line to pretty much the rest of the business.
I did a talk for Salesforce out at Dreamforce, and they asked me, "Can you compare social to kind of the [lease line 00:23:45]? How is it replicating the store experience?" I said, "It basically is the new store experience. It used to be, a person's first interaction with your company was walking into a store to deal with an associate. Now it's social media." We're the first time people actually will communicate with somebody from social, so we kind of have to act like that. Then we give that feedback to the rest of the company.
Adam Brown: I know one of the ways that you do that, Matt, and I had the opportunity to hear you talk a bit about that at Dreamforce. I also note that you're going to be speaking about it again at Salesforce Connections, June 12th through the 14th.
Matt Thompson: Word has gotten out. People want to hear it.
Jay Baer: It's great.
Adam Brown: Something that I am so proud of, and honored to have a little part of, is your Sportsdeck, your social media command center that is built right there in the headquarters. For those of you who are listening who haven't seen a picture of it, we've got a great picture of it on socialpros.com. Please check it out.
Matt, talk a bit about-
Jay Baer: You're going to have social envy of the screen beta. Seriously, go to socialpros.com, look up Matt's episode. You'll be like, "Damn, I want me one of those. Talk to Adam Brown. He'll come build you one with his carpentry."
Matt Thompson: It really is amazing. You guys did a great job in building that out. It has been a centerpiece. We work in an amazing building. People are wowed by the Lids facility. The crowning jewel has got to be that command center, which we call the Pressbox. It is fantastic.
Adam Brown: Talk a bit about how you're using it, because thank you for that, but I think what's more exciting, and more amazing is how you're using it. You're not just using it as you said, to kind of understand what people are saying, make sure you're routing the right customer service messages to the right people. You're using it as an early warning radar, you're using it to understand where people are talking about particular sports teams. It's gone way beyond just marketing and comms, and customer service using this data, right?
Matt Thompson: Oh, absolutely. The two big things that we get out of the Pressbox ... One is being on the front lines. We man that pretty much during the work day. If Lids is open, we've got people down there in the Pressbox watching those screens. We've got eight monitors. One is always on ESPN, so we can stay up to date with what's going on in sports and news. The other seven are dedicated to different command center screens. We can watch and see if there's anything going on anywhere in the country.
We've got it to where the United States map is up, and we can see them start to light up if California all of a sudden we're getting a lot of engagement. Or, New York. It's always fun to watch during a sporting event like March Madness to see the different states start to light up.
We've got a word cloud to see if the things we think should be popping up on that word cloud are. Whether we've got a promo code, whether we've got sales going on, if the right teams are starting to pop up. We can see who our influencers are, who are talking, who we should be engagement with. We've got our top images. We can find [UGC 00:26:26] to share on channel, so it really is effective.
Then, if I can real quick, the other big thing that I always push on everybody. We've had a bunch of different companies come into the building to come and see the Pressbox, and see how they can integrate it. They always ask me, "What's the biggest takeaway we should have when doing one of these for ourselves?" I say, "Don't hide it. Don't put it in a closet, don't put it in a boardroom, don't put it somewhere where only your team is going to see it."
The biggest thing that this does is, it gets the rest of the company to buy into social, and the ROI involvement. Everybody who walks in, whether it be a guest, whether it be an executive, somebody from another department, as they look in and they see something tangible, like, "Okay, now I understand everything that social is doing. I get it now, I buy in. I see how important it is." So, really it's a good buy-in feature.
Adam Brown: Thank you for sharing that. It is a spectacular achievement in terms of what you're doing. I think one of the things that Jay and I often talk about here is this idea of we, as social media practitioners, used to have one little, small homeroom that we lived in, but the whole concept of what social media is, and is becoming is permeating throughout an organization. I think your storyline there kind of fits that perfectly.
Matt, I've got one other kind of question. Especially you being in the retail space. Something I notice is something that's important to a lot of retailers out there, you have thousands of employees around the country. Working in your stores as managers, as retailers and associates. You're selling a very passionate product. Inevitably you're going to have some employees out there that are going to say things that are very celebratory, or not so celebratory.
Any way that you deal with that, or is that something that you pass on to your HR organization? Are there any kind of standards or governance for, if I'm an associate or an assistant manager in one of your stores?
Matt Thompson: We try to educate before any of that ever happens. We have an annual touch base with all of our district managers. They come to headquarters, and then usually during that time I'll give some sort of presentation to them about the dos and don'ts of social; best practices. They should be talking to their manager and employees about it. Then, occasionally they'll come to the building throughout the year at different times, and I'll give them a little speil in the Pressbox, and walk them through that.
Now, if they don't take my well-laid-out tips, and if things do go astray and somebody does post ... What you find more often is when an employee takes it upon themselves to answer somebody else's question or comment on one of our Facebook threads. So, some customer comes and blasts Lids on our post, and then an employee takes it upon themselves to go and answer on behalf of Lids. What we do there, we normally try to reach out to the manager first, and then we turn it over to the ops team.
We found, if we jump in on the social channel and try to deal with it there, things just get worse. A lot of times, if we see it, we'll try to address it, if we can, behind the scenes. If not we'll try to get management, or their bosses to kind of try to curtail that.
Adam Brown: Who would have thought that you'd be doing what you're doing right now? Social Media Manager at Lids, Matt Thompson, it's so great to have you on the show. I'm curious kind of how you got to this role. You mentioned an amazing role that you had with one of the most highly syndicated network radio shows at the time. Talk a bit about your background, and how you became what you're doing.
Matt Thompson: Kind of like, where Jay is right now, I went to Bloomington, IU, and while I was there I got into radio. I had a college radio show. Loved radio, and grew up in the Indianapolis area, so knew of Bob & Tom. They were my heroes growing up, so I ended up, I got lucky enough to be an intern with them.
While I was there, I got to learn some different aspects of broadcasting, and made a big impression on them. I wrote some comedy bits, and that kind of stuff. When I graduated, they said they were basically going to make a role for me to come and work for them. They needed a person to write copy on their website, and then also voiceover the [inaudible 00:30:18].
While I was there working on the Web, like I said, social media kind of came up. It was Friendster and MySpace, so I developed those for them. Then it was Facebook coming around. Then it was Twitter. My role on the radio side was getting bigger, but then my role on the Web and social media was getting even bigger than that.
Everything was going good until Bob & Tom's parent company sold them off. There was a change in the management, and my role disappeared. It was a mutual parting, no hard feelings there. Everything was good, still worked with them on the down low. But, then I wanted to go somewhere else and try that, so social media was kind of my in into a completely different industry.
I had never done anything but radio before, so I started working for a national retailer, completely out of my element. A radio studio completely different than a buttoned-up corporate entity.
Adam Brown: Jay and I can vouch for that, yeah.
Matt Thompson: But, I would say the biggest takeaway I had, and one of my biggest advantages was, I was able to think of things from outside of how they did it. I came from an entertainment, and from not pitching any product, but pitching entertainment, pitching concepts and ideas, and things like that. Whereas, they were always in the selling mode. So, I was able to kind of mesh my entertainment genes, and their wanting to sell, and we were able to do something different than a lot our competitors were doing.
Then, I ended leaving there, and coming to Lids, and my role had just increased. The amount of things you can do on social has increased, so it really has been a bizarre journey. And, a bunch of other little stops between there that I won't bore you with. That's a whole other show, if you ever want to have me back. But, it really has been a wild career, and nothing I ever imagined I would be doing when I was down at IU.
Adam Brown: You were a big sports fan before, though.
Matt Thompson: Yeah.
Adam Brown: Obviously, this just put you right in the middle of it, and I suspect it would be difficult to do that job if you didn't have a passion for sports, and a knowledge of the teams.
Let me ask you this. Now that you have the ability to interact with the fan bases for lots of different franchises through social posts, social customer service, et cetera, which fan base do you like or respect more than you used to? And, which fan base do you have the most trouble with?
You're like, "Oh, no. Philly. Whatever." How true is that, given your social media [crosstalk 00:32:36]? So, nobody else is-
Matt Thompson: There are-
Adam Brown: Don't worry about it.
Matt Thompson: There are definite fan bases that are more vocal than others. Many of which, your preconceived notions of a lot of fan bases, probably pretty accurate.
Adam Brown: There's a stereotype for a reason, right?
Matt Thompson: Yeah. They didn't just pick those out of a hat. No pun intended. They kind of earned a lot of those reputations. I'd say one of the more vocal ones are definitely Yankees and Red Sox. Whenever you post about one, you know you're going to hear about it from the other.
Jay Baer: It's a twofer, you get double the engagement. It's smart.
Matt Thompson: Exactly, yeah. When we want to engage fan base, we post a Red Sox hat.
Adam Brown: Clickbait.
Jay Baer: Yeah.
Matt Thompson: Yes. That is our way to get clickbait. But, one of the ones that surprised me was probably the Mariners. If we don't ... And, the Rockies. And, there might be ... I don't know if it's just because we don't feature them a lot, but when we don't for a while, we always get ... I'd say our three biggest complaints that we don't show enough of are Mariners, Rockies and Giants.
Jay Baer: Wow, that's interesting. It's like all those Western teams, number one.
Matt Thompson: I think the people out west already kind of feel a little put out because there's the East coast bias. Everything happens on East coast time.
Adam Brown: And, they're like, "Hey man, I'm in Indiana, so give me a break."
Matt Thompson: Yeah. I may be on Easter time, but I feel like central time.
Adam Brown: First pitches are always taking place when they're still at work, and they're already angry about that.
Jay Baer: Yeah, I'm still a fan of all those-
Matt Thompson: Think of the nice weather, though.
Jay Baer: Yeah, Matt's still a fan of all my Arizona teams, having lived there for 40 years before I moved here to Indiana. It's pretty tough, watching Suns games, 10:30 tip off, or University of Arizona games, 10:30 tip off. It's tricky, man. It's a DVR necessity, being a West coast fan out here on East coast time.
Adam Brown: That's for sure.
Matt Thompson: Yeah, it's one of the big things that happen here. Like I said, when I was with the appliance retailer, there's never really a reason why you had to stay up till midnight to push a microwave, but you have to stay up sometimes, like until two in the morning to see the baseball game from-
Jay Baer: I need a burrito right now, and I don't have a microwave. I've got to get myself-
Matt Thompson: Where can I buy one? But, we will have to add people online and watching big sporting events, like this past World Series.
Jay Baer: Oh, sure.
Matt Thompson: Some of the games will go until 1:30-2:00, and we have to be up tweeting about it, ready to go, launching championship gear when that happens. So, sports dictates a lot of our schedule.
Adam Brown: And, sports dictates a lot of the crazy and amazing things that you get access to, Matt. I know one of the things you were alluding to right before the show was how you accidentally ended up on the parade lap at the Indy 500. Now, I'm just going to say, that sounds awfully suspicious. What the hell are you talking about?
Jay Baer: He jumped the fence.
Matt Thompson: Yeah, exactly. I accidentally ended up running from the cops. No, in my old life as a broadcaster, we used to always broadcast live on race day. Part of my assignment was to film the show. Then I would also go try to get some pickup shots around the crowd for whatever was going on, so I could insert it into the video for breaks.
I'm walking with my camera bag, and I've got my lanyard on, so I look somewhat official. I hear this voice, and somebody I vaguely recognized ... I still have no idea who this is, so hopefully this person is going to listen, because it's been a mystery the last 10 years of my life as to who this person was.
But, he yelled, "Matt Thompson." I'm like, "Yeah." Like, "Hey, are you supposed to be over here?" I said, "Okay." They pulled me on, and they put me in the back of a pickup truck. They're like, "Yeah, you can shoot this way, towards the cars." So, I'm in the back of this pickup truck driving around the Motor Speedway with the cars in tow behind us. 400 thousand fans in the stands cheering, which I know is mostly for the camera guy in the back of the truck.
But, it was one of the most surreal, awesome experiences that just happened to be in the right place at the right time, with somebody who felt like they knew me, and away I went.
Adam Brown: That's how you got your news Emmy.
Matt Thompson: Exactly, and that's why I was up on stage congratulating and thanking everybody for all my hard work.
Jay Baer: I wish we had selfies back then.
Matt Thompson: Oh, I know. There were so many cool things that I got to do that I didn't get to capture.
Jay Baer: I know, it's too bad. Matt, thanks so much for being here. I'm going to ask you the two questions that we've asked all 320 previous guests; whatever the number is now on this show, going back eight years.
First question for you, Matt Thompson, Social Media Manager at Lids. Lids.com, ladies and gentlemen, if you're interested in picking up a hat, which I highly suggest. I've got several of my own, as does Mr. Adam Brown. First question, Matt, if you could give somebody a little advice, what would you tell them? What would you tell somebody who's looking to become a social pro?
Matt Thompson: My first bit of advice is something I always keep close to my heart whenever I'm doing anything, and it's something I touched on a little earlier. It's, "Never get too close to your industry, to where you can no longer see things through your customers' eyes." I think the biggest problem that some companies have is they start creating content that they want, and not content that their customers want.
So, always being able to look at what you're putting out through the eyes of the people who are going to be looking at it, or interacting with it. For example, it's kind of my bar with my team. I said, "If another company were to put something out, and you wouldn't care, then why should they care? If you wouldn't like it, your customers aren't going to like it."
Jay Baer: Yeah, absolutely. That's really good. It's one of the best we've ever had, actually, in all the years we've been doing this. Really well said. We call that the "Mom Test." If your mom, who, in theory, loves you unconditionally, would not like this piece of content, why would anybody else?
Matt Thompson: Yup, I fully agree with that.
Jay Baer: Last question for Matt Thompson, Social Media Manager at Lids. Lids.com. If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be?
Matt Thompson: Ooh, that threw me off. I was going to say MoonPie, because their Twitter feed is off the charts. I love the layout.
Jay Baer: They've been on the show. We've had MoonPie on-
Matt Thompson: You've had MoonPies on? Oh, maybe you can set that up. I love what they're doing.
Jay Baer: We can do that. Socialpros.com, ladies and gentlemen. Look in the archives, see our episode about MoonPie.
Matt Thompson: If you said living, I'd probably go with Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor.
Jay Baer: Ooh, good one.
Adam Brown: That's a new one.
Matt Thompson: A guilty pleasure of mine since it first debuted in, I think 2001, just a guy who has what seemingly is the best job in the world, and he still seems as engaged, and as in love with that job today as when he first started, which is like 36 seasons. So, I'd love to talk to Jeff Probst and swap stories.
Jay Baer: That's a good one, and you're exactly right. He feels like it's his very first time, even though he's seen it all before. I'm psyched that you're still watching that show. I gave up a few years ago, but I'm delighted. Obviously it's still going strong. Ratings are still high, so good for you. I like the Jeff Probst answer.
Matt Thompson: Yeah, in my life I think I've missed two episodes total. That's says a lot of sad things about me, but yeah. That is my guilty pleasure.
Jay Baer: Adam, we should have, like, a Social Pro survivor, and get a bunch of social media managers on the show, and then do a live video, and have them vote each other off the island, and the remaining one gets a free thing from Salesforce.
Adam Brown: We've always talked about how, when we have guests, often times they will move on to other, and bigger and greater things, so maybe that becomes a big cornerstone of the survival aspect.
Jay Baer: When we did the 300th episode show, a series of videos a few months ago, it was hard to find people to be on the show, because almost every single person who has ever been on the show has been promoted, or has gone to a different company. So, Matt, I'm going to give you about 30 days to still be at Lid. So, clean out your desk.
Adam Brown: Senior Vice President.
Jay Baer: Yeah.
Matt Thompson: Well, I'll tell you what. No matter how high I go, you guys ever want me back on the show I'll- [crosstalk 00:40:13]
Jay Baer: All right. Thank you. Matt, thanks very much. Thanks for keeping the fires warm in Indiana as well. Great job at Lid. We appreciate you taking the time to be on the show. It was terrific.
Matt Thompson: Thanks, guys, for having me. It was a blast.
Jay Baer: You bet. We'll do it again sometime. Ladies and gentlemen, that has been Matt Thompson, Social Media Manager at Lids. I am, of course, Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert. He's Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and this is your favorite podcast, Social Pros.
 
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